Some say he was born into it, some that he was born with it, while others claim he has earned it. With one foot planted firmly in folk music’s traditional roots and the other reaching into its dynamic future, Nathan Rogers isn’t entirely sure what ‘it’ is; singer, songwriter, guitarist, throat-chanter, percussionist, revivalist, or innovator. Whatever it may be, “Nathan has the ability to turn the folk world on its ears.”
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The Men of the Deeps is a choir of working and retired coal miners from Cape Breton Island, organized in 1966 as part of Cape Breton’s contribution to Canada’s Centennial Year. The Men of the Deeps have released nine albums, been the subject of two NFB films and one book, toured around the world and frequently been featured on TV and radio. Today the Men of the Deeps are more than a singing group – it is a social institution. There is a camaraderie amongst the members of the group that carries over to their audiences wherever they perform.
Maxim Cormier is a young guitarist in his 20′s from Cheticamp, Cape Breton. His guitar playing is both truly peaceful and extremely complex and this presentation of dynamic emotion and style fuels every note Maxim plays. His original works are largely comprised of acoustic guitar that highlights a contemporary, modern approach to otherwise classic sounds. The word “versatility” best describes Cormier as he effortlessly performs styles as diverse as jazz, blues, folk, classical and traditional Celtic music. In 2012, Cormier was awarded the Drive’ers Association’s Big Sampie Award and released his debut album.
Olov Johansson and Mikael Marin started playing together as teenagers around 1980. They met and jammed on nyckelharpa and guitar with Roger Tallroth at a festival in 1989. While Olov and Mikael were playing fairly straightforward folkmusic duets, Roger’s chordings and rhythms provided a different twist on Swedish traditional music. They recorded an album and took on the name Väsen—a Swedish word with many meanings, “essence” among the most prominent. It was originally meant to just be an album title, but soon people were calling to book the band Väsen and the name stuck. The band’s popularity gradually grew, along with their international reputation. They have now released 15 albums and continue to tour regularly.
Matt was born in Cape Breton and started playing whistle and pipes when he was 10. He won the Argyllshire Gathering Silver Medal in Oban, Scotland 8 years later and at 19 started recording, playing and touring the US with celtic rock/fusion group Cuillin. Matt joined Natalie MacMaster’s band after Cuillin broke up, and played pipes, whistles, banjo, percussion and guitar, touring and appearing on several recordings. His own album, a stripped-bare solo recording of his main instrument, was released in 2005. After a stint with the Canadian Forces as a musician, Matt rejoined Natalie’s band earlier this year.
Roger Stone is an accomplished Cape Breton musician, born and raised in Richmond County. Currently a member of the long-established and much loved Nova Scotian band McGinty, Roger also enjoys a busy solo career and plays with a variety of other notable musicians. Known for his folk and traditional style of music, Roger has been a passionate teacher of banjo, guitar, mandolin, bass, percussion and voice for almost thirty years. He has been a contributing force and inspiration to the musical careers of well-known artists and his many students and his song writing skill is well known whether writing his own original material or in collaboration with others.
This is a powerful collaboration borne of a long-time friendship and a shared love of Celtic music. Whether it’s the mesmerizing Gaelic vocals of Mary Jane, or the superb and true musicianship of Wendy on the fiddle, these ladies have been making their mark with traditional audiences worldwide for over two decades. Mary Jane and Wendy have both been recognized internationally for their solo music careers, and Wendy has been Mary Jane’s steadfast comrade in the presentation of her music for many years. It seems only natural that these two impressive talents now come together to create a true musical partnership, which will combine their musical sensibilities, their strong Celtic roots, and their colourful personalities.
Riley Baugus represents the best of old time American banjo and song. His powerful singing voice and his expert musicianship place him squarely in the next generation of the quality American roots tradition. Raised in a household where recordings of old-time music were often played, the North Carolina native began singing and playing music at an early age, developing a love and appreciation for traditional, southern Appalachian music. Riley has played with numerous old-time stringbands. He taught banjo, guitar, and fiddle at music camps throughout the U.S., and toured in Europe with Dirk Powell and Tim O’Brien among others. Riley makes his home near Winston Salem, North Carolina, where he builds old-time, open-back banjos, and is part of a thriving musical community.